What is a Cochlear Implant?
When hearing aids are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of individuals with severe to profound hearing loss, it may be time to consider cochlear implantation. A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device which partially restores hearing for patients who receive no measureable benefit from hearing aids and is FDA approved for infants aged 12 months through adults. Sound is picked up by a microphone on the sound processor worn behind the ear, converted into electrical stimuli, and transmitted to the inner ear along an array of electrodes that are inserted during surgery. Cochlear implants essentially bypass the nonfunctional portion of the auditory system and then directly send the information to the hearing nerve via electrical stimulation. Because of this different mode of stimulation the auditory system needs time to adjust and cochlear implants are programmed, or “mapped” frequently following activation to accommodate for this learning curve. It is also imperative that cochlear implant recipients, regardless of age, receive post-implant auditory therapy and do intensive auditory rehabilitation practice at home in order to achieve the best possible outcomes from cochlear implantation. Dr. Fucci and the audiology team at Arizona Hearing and Balance Center have extensive experience with the unique management of cochlear implant patients and are able to provide trustworthy advice and support through every step of the cochlear implant process.
Arizona Hearing and Balance Center maintains the oldest cochlear implant program in the East Valley and has been providing superior patient care since 2001. On November 13 and 15, 2001, the first cochlear implant patients at Arizona Hearing and Balance Center – and the first in the East Valley – were implanted at Mesa Lutheran Hospital and Desert Samaritan Medical Center, respectively. Both recipients were barely one year old at time of implant and they have progressed tremendously under our care. Both are completely mainstreamed with normal speech and auditory perception. Both hospitals have since changed names but the continuity and quality of care provided by Arizona Hearing and Balance Center has remained unwavering. Over the past 20 years we have implanted hundreds individuals in-house and inherited nearly as many others from clinics around the country. Our current patient population, comprised of 60% adults and 40% pediatrics, represents patients from all walks of life with all etiologies of hearing loss and a wide spectrum of cochlear implant performance outcomes. Arizona Hearing and Balance Center remains dedicated to providing the utmost quality of care that this highly specialized group of patients deserves. Our audiologists are exceptionally trained and receive intensive continuing education in cochlear implant candidacy selection, current and future technologies, mapping techniques, troubleshooting, and more. Arizona Hearing and Balance Center works with all three cochlear implant manufacturers.
Cochlear implantation is a process which involves much diagnostic testing, counseling, and adjustment to the device. A cochlear implant evaluation will determine if the patient is a candidate for a cochlear implant by comparing test scores to guidelines set by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for cochlear implant candidacy. Once a patient is deemed a candidate, the audiologist will discuss all possible device options and counsel the patient on what to expect in the months following surgery. After the healing period, the device is activated and programming begins. Programming sessions are generally 1 hour long. The audiologist and patient work together to create several maps (or programs) for the patient to try. As patients become more accustomed to listening through their implant, fewer adjustments are needed and programming sessions become less frequent. The first year of cochlear implant use is the most labor-intensive and also the most challenging. Learning to listen through a cochlear implant takes time and patience but the long-term benefits can be more than enough to compensate.
Arizona Hearing and Balance Center currently serves a large adult cochlear implant population from all over Arizona and elsewhere. Our state of the art facility is equipped with the latest technology to effectively program all three devices.
Pediatric patients are treated by our cochlear implant team, which includes the otologist, audiologists, and speech language pathologists. Our office is fully equipped with state of the art and child friendly testing devices to service pediatric cochlear implant patients. Additionally, training and support is given to those involved in their education. We strive to obtain a collaborative relationship with all involved in order to effectively facilitate the child’s development. We have a thorough knowledge of the speech therapy options and educational opportunities. We are recognized as the only full service cochlear implant in the East Valley. Please see the pediatrics section.
Please take the time to look through the three companies' websites. Our job is to help you make an informed decision on which device is best for you.
Cochlear Corporation - www.cochlearamericas.com
Nucleus 22 implant FDA approval – 1985
Med-El - www.medel.com
FDA adult approval – August 2001
Advanced Bionics - www.bionicear.com
FDA adult approval – August 1996